Who’s who of committee members

Anthea Owen

Anthea Owen

Chair

Anthea is Chair of Trustees for Open Ears. She lives in Leicester with her husband, Steve and their eldest daughter, Emily.  Her interest in language and communication led her, when Emily became deafened through brain surgery in her early twenties, to learn sign language.  Although far from proficient, she is now able to occasionally interpret for deaf members of her church congregation.  Predominantly a stay-at-home mum to four daughters, Anthea augmented the family income through childminding, then as a teaching assistant and finally, until taking early retirement, as support to the schools Attendance officer.  She is always looking to include those on the edges and is to contribute to Open Ears in whatever way she can.

Mary Bucknall

Mary Bucknall

Vice Chair

Mary Bucknall is a Trustee and currently the Vice-Chair of Open Ears. She is profoundly deaf herself and relies totally on lip-reading with the help of a powerful digital hearing aid.  Prior to moving to Dorset to live nearer her family, Mary spent some years living and working in Kent teaching Deaf Awareness to clergy and churchwardens, and social services staff. She has also taught BSL Taster courses to beginners. Her interests are reading, writing, local history and travel. As well as Open Ears, she is a member of Deaf Anglicans Together (DAT).

Julia Chapman

Julia Chapman

Treasurer

Julia has been a Trustee and Treasurer of Open Ears since April 2017.  She has enjoyed finding out about the work the committee does and the impact this has on its members.  Although Julia does not have a hearing impairment, she does know what it is like to come to terms with, and to adjust to, a disability.  Julia was diagnosed with a genetic eye condition as an adult and is registered as sight impaired.  This experience gave rise to her interest in Open Ears.  Julia is a qualified accountant and, prior to having to stop work due to her disability, worked in finance for twenty years, most recently within a leading software company.  Although Julia already knows some of us, she is looking forward to meeting many more members of Open Ears at future events.

Marylin Kilsby

Marylin Kilsby

Website coordinator

Marylin has been a member of Open Ears since 2008.  She joined the committee in 2010 as a Trustee. Marylin was born hard of hearing but over the years has become severely to profoundly deaf.  She is a qualified teacher of deaf children but spent sixteen years of her working life as a social worker with deaf people. For the last eighteen years until she retired in October 2010, Marylin worked in a voluntary organisation, specifically with deaf people who are acquiring a sight loss.  Despite her significant deafness, Marylin enjoys playing the clarinet and several sizes of recorder.

Christine Pitts

Christine Pitts

Administrator

Christine became a member of HHCF (Hard of Hearing Christian Fellowship as it was then called) in 1994 and joined the committee the same year, later taking on the roles of Administrator and Trustee.  Christine started becoming deaf with otosclerosis in her late 20’s and is now profoundly deaf and also has tinnitus.  In June 2018 Christine was able to have a cochlear implant which has made a huge difference to her life.  In her working life, Christine was a secretary to the Personnel Director of a large Departmental Store, and then in the aircraft industry.  In 1966 she married and worked as a secretary at the Bournemouth and Poole College of Art until starting a family in 1970.  After the children started school, Christine worked with adults with learning difficulties and then, for 20 years, with children aged from birth to 4 years who had special needs.  Since retiring, Christine’s 5 granddaughters keep her busy, and she is also a Lay Preacher in the United Reformed Church, helping at various small churches who are without their own Pastor.

Tracy Williamson

Tracy Williamson

Hearing Eye Editor

Tracy joined Open Ears committee in 2004 and became a Trustee in 2005.  Tracy is severely deaf and partially sighted due to contracting Encephalitis at 3 years old.  Tracy took over as Editor of Hearing Eye Magazine in 2017 and is now co-editor with Anthea Owen.  Tracy shares a home in Tonbridge, Kent with Marilyn Baker from where they both work for MBM Trust, an itinerant Christian ministry seeing God bringing deep inner change to peoples lives. When time permits she loves reading, creative writing and being with friends.

Marilyn Baker

Marilyn Baker

Associate Committee Member

Singer/songwriter Marilyn Baker has recently become an associate member of the committee. She was born prematurely and became blind soon after birth. At the age of fifteen she became a Christian and after graduating from the Royal College of Music taught music in different schools. Later, she gave this up in order to fulfil the calling that was on her heart, to spread God’s message of love and forgiveness through song. She has produced many CDs and works closely with her friend and colleague Tracy Williamson. They direct a charity together, which supports their work of doing concerts, leading church events and running rest and renewal breaks around the UK. Marilyn is looking forward to developing closer links with Open Ears.

Susanne Willdig

Susanne Willdig

Associate Committee Member and Speech To Text provider

Susanne is an associate committee member.  She is a busy mum of two young children now, but used to work for Prospects for People with Learning Disabilities as marketing manager. When Prospects, together with other Christian disability charities, put on a conference on London about the theology of disability, she noticed a lady typing live subtitles at all the talks – all day long. By mid-afternoon Susanne could see the lady was exhausted and offered to help, and when Don Mason, then Chairman of Open Ears, saw her doing this he cornered her immediately afterwards to ask her to help at Open Ears; and the rest, so to speak, is history.

Victor Willdig

Victor Willdig

Associate Committee Member

Victor is an associate committee member.  He is a busy father of two young children and husband to Susanne. The kids keep him busy during their waking hours when he is home from work and when they’re not he’s busy doing the long list of jobs Susanne has prepared for him to be done on the house! Victor is a designer for Airbus in Filton and met Susanne on holiday in 2011. Victor comes as a package with Susanne in helping with everything to do with logistics and technology.